May 28, 2016
This article is brought to you as part of a syndication partnership with Gadget Review.
When 4K was first introduced, it took everyone some time to adjust, including manufacturers. There just wasn't much content out there made for 4K, which made the TVs less impressive – not to mention very expensive.
Fortunately, times have changed. Prices have dropped, and there's more streaming content than ever before, a literal feast for your eyes. The best 4K TV of 2016 combines affordable prices with cutting-edge features, so we're going to make a few suggestions about what models will look great in your living room!
Providers That Offer 4K Content
Important to remember: HDTV marketing is filled with a whole lot of made-up terms and specs that manufacturers can essentially invent – they may sound impressive, but they tell you absolutely nothing about the quality of the TV. Fortunately, 4K is 4K, and that capability can't really be faked. This also means that the size of the screen is very important. There's a dropoff in how smaller screens portray 4K – eventually, you just can't tell the difference anymore. Choose a TV screen that's 50 inches or larger to get the full impact. Note that we chose the best-sized screens here for general use, but there are options for each model to go bigger if you want.
Hisense isn't a widely recognize brand, which in this case works well to its advantage when it comes to pricing. We love the low, low price on this 50-inch 4K TV, which puts it well within reach of pretty much any budget. Despite the price, it's also a smart TV which offers hot keys for skipping directly to your favorite apps. Of course, because of the price, that's pretty much all you get – do you really need more? Connections are varied with 3 USB ports, 4 HDMI ports, digital audio, composite, component, and so on. If you have a device, it can probably be connected.
This is a good point to mention that these connections are sort of moot when dealing with 4K content. You need an HDMI cord with a competent protocol (preferably able to handle 60Hz) to properly transmit 4K images – otherwise, the image you get on your TV won't be 4K. So when reading about connections, your only real question should be: Does it have HDMI, and is it standard 1.4 or later? That's a requirement. Okay, on to our next pick.
Samsung is a very reliable producer of top-notch TVs, and this continues into the 4K generation with this 55-inch beauty that includes built-in Wi-Fi and 4 HDMI ports. There's also an octa-core processor for all your app management, which should make skipping through shows extra-speedy. The TV uses Samsung's Smart View interface, which is easy to pick up.
This is also a curved TV – which is fine. That curve doesn't really do anything for the image and may or may not impact your experience. It does, however, make it difficult for people to see the TV unless they are sitting right in front of it, and so may not be a great choice for smaller areas, families, or plenty of friends.
Vizio's 60-inch TV model is still the right size for most living rooms, and has all the usual features that we've come to expect, including Wi-Fi, smart features (now with the Vizio interface), and several HDMI ports, although only one of them seems to be HDMI 2 and ready for 4K.
The really noteworthy aspect for this model is the full LED array with 64 active zones where brightness can be controlled. This alone will probably give you a better picture than traditional LED backlighting, and it's worth looking for features like this that do tend to make a difference.
Wow, that's a price jump compared to our other picks! And the reason behind it is OLED: All the other TVs have been LED, but this LG model is OLED – a much newer technology that essentially combines lighting and color into the same panel. The result is a far clearer, better-illuminated image than anything else…and also a higher price tag.
The 65-inch TV also has Wi-Fi and 3 HDMI ports, but let's be honest, that OLED is the big seller here. In fact, it's likely to make more impact on your viewing experience than 4K – and together the two will make your old HDTV look like something from the black-and-white era.
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